Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune located approximately a kilometer off the Normandy coast of France, and it looks like a goddamn fairy tale. (It is, nearly, a fairy tale, as the city was the inspiration for the Disney film Tangled.)Part monastery, part fort, part village, Mont Saint-Michel is designed to mirror the feudal system, with the monastery at the top, the village at the bottom, and there were allegedly houses outside the walls for farmers and fisherman.We arrived in the afternoon so the tide was still low, allowing you to walk around the outside of the walls (if you so desired). It was really rocky and muddy, so I decided to pass, but inside the walls is unbelievable… yep, that’s a drawbridge!Narrow, steep streets, lined with little shops, restaurants, and cafes.According to the legend, the archangel Michael appeared in 708 to Aubert of Avranches, the bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church on this rocky islet. From then on, it was referred to as Mont Saint-Michel.Saint Michael, considered an “archangel,” was not only a healer, but also a defender of the people, famously depicted slaying Satan in the form of a serpent. The Eagle represents Saint Michael himself, so there’s gorgeous gilded statues interlaced with the architecture. Here’s the Eagle head!Behold… the abbey! A destination for monks (and once used as a prison), the abbey is breathtaking, silent and still, a series of Gothic rooms and vaulted architecture. Since the island is somewhat small, and flat land is difficult to come by, the sacred space is divided into many rooms for their individual purposes!
The dining hall had a beautiful overhanging installation of feathers, hanging over the middle of the room. It was easy to imagine the long tables of monks dining here.One of my favorite parts of Mont Saint-Michel is the giant tread-wheel, which required six workers to power the hamster-style wheel, allowing the monks to haul up thousands of pounds of stones and supplies from the landing below!
From the ramparts, you can see (intruders?) for miles! The tide’s starting to come in!The bridge to access the island was built in 2014, allowing later access to the island and helping with the tidal flow around the island. (See how the water came in?!)
Walking along the walls and ramparts, it’s hard not to feel a little romance, right?
Cemeteries in magical places like these are especially fascinating to me, when you consider the small population (under 50) that has lived here consistently over the generations, and those that have fallen here by chance, now remain forever.Mont Saint-Michel is by FAR one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to in my life, so I had to snap this panorama before I left, and I think it’s the best photo I got.And the trip continues! Where to next you ask? We take a somber, rainy trip, to the American Cemetery in Normandy.